Are you a friend to you? Do you even like yourself? If the answer to these questions is yes, you’re in good shape. If you hesitate, don’t know, or answer no, then you have to get a handle on the fact that how you connect with yourself spiritually, emotionally, and even physically is vitally important.
We’ve been taught not to love ourselves because it’s supposedly selfish. No, it’s not (unless it’s at the exclusion of everyone else). We have to love ourselves; in fact, I believe that we never reach our true spiritual growth unless we can take joy in our own company. We need downtime with ourselves more than ever now in a world that’s so full of noise and stress.
I have a friend who can’t be alone even for a minute, so she continually has people coming and going, phones ringing, and guests staying over all the time. Don’t get me wrong-when my boys were growing up, our home was a beehive of activity, but even then I could retreat to my room, read, listen to music, sew, or just be quiet with my thoughts or prayers. Of course I like myself, but getting to that point meant striving to be the person God wants me to be. You see, if you try to do the best you can in this life, emanating love and kindness and never intentionally hurting anyone, then you’ll be a person whom you can love and like. And then you’ll truly be able to love others, too.
You have to confront the fear of exploring who you are-you can’t just hide behind a wall of guilt or feelings of unworthiness or you’ll sabotage yourself. The first step is facing your emotional problems. These are usually harmful patterns that you keep repeating, such as the judgment of others or insisting that everyone should do what you feel is right. If you’re so busy condemning people, you’ll never have the time to know, much less love, yourself. So overcoming your destructive patterns can kick-start your growth and self-love.
You also have to face life full on and not shy away from the mountains you have to climb, for each challenge you encounter makes you stronger and more proud of yourself. And in the process, you’ll become aware of your strengths, which will lessen your weaknesses.
Speaking of weaknesses, it can be helpful to discover where you come up short. Of course this won’t be a pleasant process. After all, questions such as “Am I too self-absorbed or guilt ridden?” or “Am I too much of a perfectionist, not only with myself, but with others as well?” can be uncomfortable, but uncovering their answers will help lift off the heavy layers of behavior that have been keeping your soul from experiencing growth.
What Do I Want From Life?
In addition, asking yourself what you want from life and what goals you’ve set for yourself will help you focus. Unless you have an ambition, be it large or small, you’re going to feel useless, like a ship without a rudder. If you simply keep your eye on the target you wish to reach, you’ll do so.
I know it can be easy to fall into the trap of “I can’t do it . . . I’m too weak, afraid, old, young [or whatever your particular excuse is].” Although your chart is set and your soul knows what it needs, many times a negative environment or certain types of programming can cover up who you really are-an entity made by God who is unique and different from any other entity in the universe. Just by knowing that, you can drop those heavy, binding overcoats and set your soul free. But most of all, you have to believe in yourself and trust that even in tough times, your own resources will carry you through.
Now let’s get to the relationship we have with our bodies. I like to think of our physical shells as vehicles we inhabit, and if we drive them too hard and never give them the proper gas, oil, fan belts, spark plugs, and the like, they won’t last and will fail us.
I also believe that our bodies are our temples, given to us by God. Naturally we shouldn’t get too crazy with this. I also believe, as the Greeks did, “Everything in moderation.” Any type of fanaticism, whether it has to do with religion, health, or politics, makes me nervous. I believe in eating right, exercising, and not drinking alcohol to excess. (I can’t drink at all because I get sick.) I also don’t think you should take recreational drugs, eat an abundance of sweets, smoke yourself to death, or take every pill that a doctor will prescribe for you. Sure, you need medication at times, but you must have a real and thoughtful relationship with your body and treat it with respect. If you do, you won’t be depressed, tired, or cranky, and your vehicle will drive you around in style for years to come.
The Things Around Us
This may seem inanimate and a bit weird, but everything in life is a type of relationship. Books, for instance, have been a large part of my life. My grandmother only went through the eighth grade in Germany, but her father had a library that filled all four walls of his study. She told me how she started at one end and continued until she’d read every book. She was also the most well-versed person I ever met on the subjects of literature, politics, theology, and social norms; she gave me so much of my love for learning. She used to say that books are our friends . . . and they genuinely are.
Reading not only makes you more knowledgeable, but it also can inspire you in many ways. You may find yourself saying, “Well, if they survived that, so can I.” I have to admit that I love autobiographies and historical books for that very reason; however, my all-time favorites have always been theological tomes, which I still devour.
The Bible has been interpreted in so many ways-hundreds of monks and theologians have edited it countless times into myriad variations-that you really have to draw your own spiritual and logical conclusions. I recommend that you read the Nag Hammadi texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls, for they haven’t been tampered with. And delve into other religions’ holy books, such as the Koran or Bhagavad Gita, if for no other reason than to give yourself more knowledge and perspective in coming to your own spiritual conclusions. You have to find what sits right with you-if it doesn’t, then just disregard it.
What about other types of communication, such as newspapers, radio, film, and even television? All of these forms of media can enhance our relationship with the world around us and lend themselves to making us better, more informed, and more interesting people. I’m not a snob, but I really prefer to watch something that’s informative and challenging to the mind, such as the programming on the Discovery Channel, A&E, the History Channel, and TLC. And when I go to the movies, I tend to enjoy films about historical figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Elizabeth I (I also dearly loved Braveheart), along with comedies and lighthearted fare.
As an aside, I find that everything is so high-tech these days, yet lacking in substance. Even in our movies, we rarely see performances with depth, morality, or meaning-it’s all in the “blue screen” special effects. I did enjoy The Matrix, but I really didn’t understand why they had to add all those technical gyrations to illustrate good and evil. I don’t want to sound too stodgy, but Taylor Caldwell’s Dialogue with the Devil and The Devil and Daniel Webster by Steven Vincent Benét are two books that blow away any movie on the subject.
Getting back to material things, I’ve seen many people who have a real relationship with them-their houses, cars, or wardrobes become their be-all and end-all. Well, when any thing becomes too important, the soul will go begging.
Everything in life is changing and moving; and jewels, sports cars, and mansions are all just on loan to us if you think about it. No one takes anything with them to the Other Side except what they’ve done for God, and no one whom I’ve talked to over there has ever missed their stock portfolios.
This doesn’t mean that we have to live in dire poverty, since money allows us to be comfortable and have the freedom to aid others. So many people have asked me, “Do you know how wealthy you’d be if you didn’t support so many other people and endeavors?” I’m sorry, but the joy of helping outweighs any material gain I could ever have. I believe that God says, “If you take care of mine, I’ll take care of you.”
What’s important is the small flower garden outside the room in which I do phone readings. The birds that sing, the flowers that bloom, the bed that has the pillows I love, the comfort of a warm blanket on a cold night-all of these are God’s blessings, yet so many times we take these items for granted. Gratitude is the sister of love, and if you add those concepts to all the things in your life, you’ll fulfill your spiritual lessons and stay on track.
This may seem a little farfetched, but we do have a relationship with our rituals. For example, think about your routine before bedtime: You lay out your clothes, put water on your nightstand, make sure the alarm clock is set, and check that the doors are locked. Or when you get up, you shower, have your coffee, read your paper, and so forth. You probably even have a ritual at the grocery store, including which aisle you’ll go down first.
As you can see, our relationships with our rituals do give us a sense of order and security-disrupt them and we can feel off balance. They also have the power to give us a sense of togetherness in a common goal, enrich customs, and bind us together spiritually, especially if they start in the family unit. Rituals are great as long as they’re not subversive, controlling, or occult.
Humankind has always had some type of relationship with their gods to ward off evil spirits; consequently, religious ritual can become very severe and even cruel. I’ve never been a proponent of too many elaborate rites, but I’ll defend anyone who wants to participate in them, be it in a church, mosque, temple, or synagogue; kneeling on a prayer cloth or padded knee rest; or chanting or singing.
In the mornings before my readings, I pray that I’m a true channel, and then I surround everyone with the white light of the Holy Spirit-including any negative people I may encounter. (So should you, for it will make your day so much better.) At night I place light columns around the world and ask for angels to attend me, my family and loved ones, and every person on Earth. When we as a group come together in positive rituals, they can give us grace and healing energy and make the world a better place.
Our Special Places
Now let’s discuss the connections we have with the places we love. I’m fond of all the countries I’ve visited, especially Greece, Turkey, and Egypt, but there’s something special about Kenya. When I first got off the plane on my initial visit, I instantly felt that I was home. I loved everything-the shops, the animals, the smell of the markets, and the kind and wonderful people who were always smiling.
There’s a pantheistic belief that we’re all part of nature and that God is in everything. I believe in part of that-everything may not have a soul like humans and animals do, but everything is a mirror of God’s love.
For example, I was sitting in the backyard the other night with my granddaughter, and we were listening to the crickets, smelling the pines and the grass, and gazing at the stars. At that moment, we both realized that we all were parts of God’s creation. I don’t run around hugging every tree, but I feel that our relationship with the beauty of nature around us is God’s way of giving us joy. We don’t take enough time in our harried society to simply notice the stars, clouds, trees, or hills; and I certainly don’t think that it’s corny to realize that each tree and blade of grass was put here by God for us to enjoy, love, and cherish.
We really haven’t treated this planet very well, but we can experience its joy. Whether it’s our plants or pets, the smells and flowers of spring, the brisk air of winter, or the crunch of leaves in the fall, these things are all part of the beauty of God’s creation. We always say, “Take time to stop and smell the roses,” but there are so many other sensory feelings we can experience. Take a few minutes to form a unity with nature, as it truly is an elixir for the soul and will help you strengthen the connection you have with yourself and God.
This excerpt is taken from the book Spiritual Connections: How to Find Spirituality Throughout All Your Relationships in Your Life by Sylvia Browne (Hay House, April 2007) and is available at all bookstores or at amazon.
It will look like this: How to Find Spirituality Throughout All Your Relationships